µASM A-Fox: a laser-guided micromissile for Class 1 UAVs by Aertec
The driving factor for arming light UAVs is always weight, as these airframes have a limited payload, hence the need for light weapon systems such as the µASM A-Fox, designed by the engineering company Aertec to be integrated on the company Tarsis 75 fixed wing UAV
With its 12 kg payload the Tarsis 75 UAV, designed by Aertec, needed some specific systems to be weaponised, stepping from an ISR asset to a system capable to immediately deal with the targets found on the battlefield. The company therefore considered to purposely developing a weapon light enough to be carried by its airframe, which needed to guarantee utmost accuracy.
Its development started 3-4 years ago and the µASM A-Fox was unveiled at FEINDEF 2023. Aertec make it clear that it is not a weapons producer but an engineering company, therefore it carried out the overall development concept, mechanical design and guidance system, as well as that of all electronics
The µASM A-Fox is an air-to-surface laser guided missile that exploits the reflected laser beam coming from the target. The concept of operation shown at FEINDEF by Aertec sees a Tarsis-ISR in intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance configuration, fitted for artillery support to carry out target acquisition, fire correction and battle damage assessment (BDA); this provides target data to another Tarsus equipped with a laser designator, which can also act as radio relay. Once this has illuminated the target the Tarsis-W, for weaponised, launches one of its two µASM A-Fox against the target, the Tarsis-ISR providing BDA. Of course target illumination can come also from third parties, either in the air or on the ground. All the action is monitored by the ground control station that provides command and control functions.
Specifically designed for Class 1 UAVs, the missile is 1 metre long, has a 50 mm diameter and as said weighs only 3 kg, 0.5 kg representing the warhead. Depending on launch altitude, the range is around 4 km. Aertec partnered with a Spanish company, which wasn’t named, which is responsible for the motor manufacturing, the motor having been developed by Aertec, and for the warhead. EDR On-Line understood that the same company might well be involved in serial production a capacity that Aertec does not have being an engineering company.
The micromissile is currently under trials, tests were performed on ground, including temperature tests, while some airborne tests including safe separation were also carried out. The full test of the system is planned before year-end.
The Tarsis is a fixed wing Class 1 UAV with a 95 kg maximum take-off mass, with a 12 kg payload. A classic architecture, with high wing, pushing propeller and a two-spar rear empennage, it is 3.8 metres long and a 5.2 metres wingspan. It has 12 hours endurance, a 5,000 metres ceiling, and a cruise speed of 100 km/h.
According to the company, the µASM A-Fox answer the need to maintain national technological sovereignty, as it is being developed and would be produced in Spain by national companies with mostly Spanish content, giving an alternative for arming Spanish UAVs with a national product rather than with imported missiles.
Photos by P. Valpolini